Explained: Moonwalkers, World’s Fastest Shoes: Where Did The Idea Come From?

“Moonwalkers,” the name might make you think that these shoes are a tribute to the legend Michael Jackson, whose moonwalk mesmerized audiences around the world. But let me stop you there, since it has nothing to do with Michael Jackson or moonwalking.

Developed by Shift Robotics, a Pennsylvania-based startup, Moonwalkers are skater-lookalike shoes that help you walk with a running speed. The Moonwalkers promise to increase your walking speed by up to 250% without any added effort. But the question is, what led to the formulation of this product, and how does it fit into our ecosystem? Let us try to understand.


Origin Of The Idea

The idea for making Moonwalkers is not a lofty tale that you find in some movies or books. It is a simple tale of adaptation that reverberates the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Coming to the story, one-day, Xunjie, the founder of Shift Robotics, was going to work on his scooter when he almost got hit by a car. He never walked to his workplace, which was just a mile away, though it was a safe option. This near-death experience got him thinking, and rather than replacing the idea of walking, he decided to enhance this idea with the incorporation of technology.

Now, many people have already tried to enhance their mobility by modifying and using skateboards, inline skates, or bikes. But these are not everyone’s cup of tea, whereas walking is something everyone is familiar and comfortable with.

Xunjie handpicked his own team, which consisted of sneaker designers, race car engineers, and roboticists, and within a span of 5 years, he and his team were able to cater to the world, a pair of shoes that helped users walk at the speed of running.


Moonwalkers In Focus

At a glance, you might mistake Moonwalkers for a pair of inline skates. Though they share a similar design, Moonwalkers come with certain variations. It has eight polyurethane wheels connected to a 300-watt electric motor, which offers a maximum of 8 Nm of torque. The wheels are small in stature as compared to an inline skate and are not aligned in a single file.

The idea of wheels connected to a motor must have raised a question in your mind, is it necessary to learn to moonwalk? The simple answer is “no.” Moonwalking like Michael Jackson may be difficult but using Moonwalkers to glide away is not. You simply put your shoes on the Moonwalkers and use the magnetic strap to buckle them. These padded straps are custom-built and show extreme adjustability.

Once you start walking, the sensors in the Moonwalkers will automatically pick up the motion, and the motor’s speed will be carefully adjusted by the AI algorithm, which will increase or decrease depending on whether you move faster or slower. A hinged toe section is an added advantage that will make movement with Moonwalkers more natural and comfortable, similar to shoes.

The Moonwalkers are available in one size and fit best in the range of 9–12 US (41.5–46 EU) for men and 10.5–13.5 US (41.5–46 EU) for women. For other sizes, the performance and comfort may vary, though the company has tested women’s sizes down to 7 US (39.5 EU) and men’s sizes up to 14 US (48.5 EU), where there were no issues.

Do not worry if there are stairs on your way; with a simple gesture of your foot, you can switch to lock mode and effortlessly walk up the stairs. Again, for moving, just switch to the shift mode via a similar foot gesture. This ability provides you with the freedom to wear Moonwalkers anywhere, ranging from the crowded streets to going up and down the stairs of mass transit.

A single charge, which takes around 1.5 hours, can help you travel around 6 miles (9.6 km). The distance covered and speed may vary depending on factors like terrain and the weight of the user. The Pittsburgh-based company promises that its users can easily traverse on gravel-based roads, cobblestone streets, and brick streets and can even go uphill or downhill using the Moonwalkers.

The presence of multiple layers of brakes and redundancies, along with automatic speed reduction, makes climbing the steepest terrain possible with this product. With an IP54 rating for water resistance, the product can endure small puddles and rain and also has automotive-grade sealing.

The Moonwalkers can reach a top speed of up to 7 mph (11.2 kph), and each shoe weighs 4.2 lb (1.9 kg). For covering an optimum distance and reaching the highest speed, the maximum amount of weight it can bear is 220 lb (99.7 kg). But suppose a user with more than the given weight hops on a Moonwalker; will it stop? Absolutely not. It may reduce the speed and distance by a few notches, but it still works perfectly, maintaining its integrity and safety.

The retail price for the Moonwalkers has been set at $1399 (Rs. 1,15,802), but by applying several offers, you can get this product at various prices.

Type And DeliveryContentsPrice
Founder’s Edition
*March 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$799 (Rs. 66,130)
*10 limited pairs
Super Early Bird
*March 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$899 (Rs. 74,407)
*40 limited pairs
Early Bird
*March 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$999 (Rs. 82,683)
*50 limited pairs
Super Early Adopter
*April 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$1099 (Rs. 90,960)
*150 limited pairs
Early Adopter Special
*April 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$1199 (Rs. 99,237)
*250 limited pairs
Kickstarter Special
*June 2023
A pair of MoonwalkersCarrying bagUSB-C charger$1299 (Rs. 1,07,513)

Conclusion

The pair of Moonwalkers you will receive have gone through EVT (Engineering Validation Test), DVT (Design Validation Test), and PVT (Product Validation Test), and the company has used multiple beta testers to cover hundreds of miles to make this product risk-free. As of now, they are only shipped within the USA, but in the future, Shift Robotics may expand its operations. As this is a crowdfunded project, there may be some delays in manufacture and delivery, but the company has promised to work out this issue and is confident in its plan as well as in its Moonwalkers.

Sandhi Das
Sandhi Das
Sandhi is a freelance content writer and a technology enthusiast. He has written on multiple topics and worked on multiple projects. Other than writing, he is interested in art, sports, and movies.

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